Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Growing Green!

Last weekend was Bridgewater's 4th annual Growing Green Festival, the only one of it's kind in Eastern Canada and a promotion of sustainability.  Most of it happened in conjunction with the Sat morning Farmer's Market.  It was a busy weekend for me with volunteering Fri night and working at the Market Sat morn.  But it was wonderful!  Here are some of the highlights.

Friday night began with free music at the Riverfront Gazabo.  Bridgewater's town crier opened the ceremonies and after a few  brief words from organizers and political figures, local talents Darren Arsenault (with friends) and ECMA's Rising Star (and Yarmouth grown) Ryan Cook entertained us until dark.  It was quite lovely sitting there next to the river under the street lights, beautiful music and the smells (and tastes) of fresh popcorn and apple cider.

Bright and early Saturday morning, the festivities began.  I was up at 6:15 and busy with my duties at the Market.  But I did get time to take in what the street had to offer.  I tried my hand at felting with the Waldorf kids, took in the beautiful hand-crafts at several vendor displays, got lots of info on how I can become more "green", ate free, hot 'n' buttery corn on the cob and listened to a little of the free music concerts at the Gazebo in the morning. 

One of my favorite displays was this one:  local kids and artists are free-painting some park benches which will be scattered throughout town once they're varathaned.  

That evening, I didn't have to work.  I was one of 150 guests who paid $20 for a 4 course dinner (with musical accompaniment - Pennybrook).  Every facet of the meal came from a 100 mi radius.  We started with a salad of roasted beets and goat cheese on mixed greens; this was followed by smoked haddock chowder (OMG!  It was incredible!); main course was free-range roasted chicken "au jus", roasted cherry tomatoes, green beans and Potatoes Anna; dessert was a roasted peach topped with blueberries and maple infused goat cheese quark.  Do I need to even mention how delicious and gorgeous it all was?  Plus we all went home with cookies, a calendar and a tote bag.

Later, there were a series of "green" films shown downtown at the Riverfront Gazabo.  (But I was so pooped, I went home to my jammies and sofa.)

Bridgewater is the shopping centre of the South Shore Nova Scotia, and can't compete with the beauty and quaintness of towns like Mahone Bay or Lunenburg.  But I love my town.  And I loved the show of community and joy that I found everywhere last weekend.  Besides trying to become better citizens of the earth, I think we're also trying to elicit a sense of social cohesion and pride in our community.

Let's hear it for the little town!     

Friday, August 24, 2012

Homemade Vanilla

(Drum roll please ........)

This is it!  The official opening of the homemade vanilla.  Here's it's progress from it's beginning in November of 2011 to today, Friday August 24, 2012.

......good ..................... gooder .................... better still ......


And I did a taste comparison.  I used the vanilla I had in my cupboard, a bottle of vanilla made with Madagascar vanilla beans and distilled in bourbon.

Color - Homemade = Good dark color
            Store bought = a little darker

Taste - Both were comparable in taste

Texture - The store bought was slightly "thicker" than my homemade. (I think that's because I should have put 3 vanilla beans in each bottle but I was too cheap to buy another.)

Cost = Again, they're comparable.  The homemade was bottled in 150 ml size jars at a cost of roughly $12-$15 each.  The store bought was in a 118.3 ml size bottle at a cost of $12.95.  

Yum-ability - I used my homemade vanilla when I baked muffins and you couldn't tell the difference.  Comparable!

Would I make it again?  YES, especially as I just found vanilla beans for a dollar cheaper than what I spent last November.  And there's just something nice about making your own or passing it on as a gift.  But I'll have to find some nice cheap jars as well.  

Great!  A valid purpose to go to Frenchies!  ('cause even this Thrifting Queen needs to justify her obsession sometimes!)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Anthony Hopkins is so darned smart!

This is my new tenet for life after 50 ...... I mean life after 55 ............. okay alrighty:  life after 57 ....... 

  1. "It's none of my business what people say of me and think of me".  Yep, I'm pretty cool with this one.  Well, except for the people I love dearly; I do care what they think.  It's no good for me to care about what they say; I know there are probably times when they say things about me that I wouldn't want to hear.  We are all human, after all.  So, I guess I still need to  work on this one.
  2. "I am what I am and I do what I do".  Yep, I can't/won't apologize or make excuses for myself any longer.  Although I often march to the beat of a different drum (I call it being unique) and I still nag and "mother" my grown kids (I call it love --- and get out of my house if you don't like it!), I'm down with me, baby!  I'm basically a good, honest person with a big heart who loves God and doesn't intentionally hurt people.  And if you won't walk through the grocery store with me because I dance to the piped-in music, that's your loss!  So, yeah!  I've got this one down pat!
  3.  "I expect nothing".  Ewwww!  This one's hard; especially if I have to expect nothing and still love them and not get hurt or disappointed or angry.  And although I was taught to give selfishly out of love, and although I try really, really hard to just "give", I  do find myself still having expectations.  Not very high on the karma scale for me!  So, I'll keep working on this one.
  4. "I accept everything".  No problem!  I've got this one aced!  I'll take your love, your adoration, your leftovers, your used clothing and books, your extra box of chocolates and any spare change you have!  What?  I have to take your complaints, your bad moods, your anger and your crap?  Maybe I need to practice my "om's" more often.

But I do deeply desire an easier life.  And as I don't live in a self-sustaining cabin in the woods, I haven't won the lottery, nor have I met an adoring rich masseuse who will love and care for me forevermore, I am adopting Anthony's philosophy -- and I'm going to keep trying harder every day.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

C'est finis!

Maybe I should have said "I'm finished" instead of "It's finished".  After all, when you decide to re-organize, simplify and re-decorate on your own time and your own dime, is it ever all done?  

  • Should I have added another pillow here?  
  • Should I have not hung as many picture there?
  • Do those patterns/colors really match?

Oh well!  Je suis finis!  Absolument!

I have boxed up and toted & carried.  I have painted and painted and painted!  I have cut and glued and sewn and plumped.  And (happily) I have thrift shopped and refueled with mostly delicious food and thrift shopped some more.  The students will soon be home and my baby will once again be leaving.  Summer is coming to an end and the season is getting ready to change as my everyday routines must.

Ici, il est!  The results of my sweat and toil.........  
Elly choose the color for her room; I added the thrifted chenille bedspread, fleece throw, clip-on bed lamp & French Provincial night table (after a good scrubdown and a couple of coats of paint, that is!); and I stencilled the bench at the end of her bed.  What is that sitting on her pillows?  Don't know!  It's a stuffed Korean thingie!  Total cost of Elly's bedroom makeover = $60.

I bought the sad looking boudoir chair at a yard sale for $5.  After spray painting and recovering with part of a $2 swatch of fabric, I think she's pretty cute.

This desk chair has been sitting around (and falling apart) for a couple of years; it was a $2 yard sale find.  I re-covered the seat with that same fabric swatch.

I bought 2 lamp sconces at a yard sale this spring for $8; then I found 2 Toille placemats at Frenchies for $1 each.  Voila!  C'est joli, n'est pas?

I've been looking for a desk like this for a long time and was rewarded just a few weeks ago on Craig's List.  Not a thrifty price by any means; but I didn't break the bank either.  And I do love it!

This lamp was a recent church sale find for $1 and the $4 Value Village shade was a plain Jane until I stencilled it.   
I have a row of shelves behind my bedroom door that used to contain books, books and more books; they've been culled and moved to the rec room.  So now my shelves display my cobalt blue Depression Glass pieces (doubling as jewellery holders), my Eifel Tower candlesticks and my antique glass jars (which hold my emergency supply of M&M peanuts and choco-covered caramels).

And here's part of the finished product!  Frenchies finds include the coverlet ($6.50), the Battenburg lace pillow shams ($1 ea) and  the Williamsburg hand-needlepointed pillow ($2); my beautiful crown pillow was a win from a fellow blogger.  As well, I finally framed some of my favorite prints, and all the frames and mats were thrifted.  (The empty macrame hanger you see hanging there will hold a little battery-powered candle stick.)   

Total cost for my bedroom (much of which has been collected over the past 3 years in anticipation of just such a makeover) = $200.

Total sense of peace, comfort and satisfaction = Priceless!

I shall spend the remaining week of freedom reclining midst my pillows, reading by lavender sprinkled lamplight, and sipping cool fizzy drinks in fancy glasses, candles flickering, feet elevated, sighing in almost total contentment.  

(Total contentment would be mind if only I'd budgeted for a tall, handsome servile "Sven" to rub my aching arches or my stiff shoulders!)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Don't you wish your girlfriend was HOT 'n' Spicy like me!

Little ole' Nova Scotia has known it's share of hot humid summers, but never like this August is giving us.  Oh my goodness!  I have such compassion now for those of you in the southern US.  

I don't have air conditioning.  I live in a lovely, shady spot where on average, you can honestly complain 3X during the summer of the excessive heat and humid conditions.  But this summer, the fans are on full blast all day long, the refrigerator is stocked with ice water, ice tea, fruit juice and popsicles.  I need only sit and I'm sweating; and any movement at all brings on a deluge of water dripping everywhere.  

Why didn't I do my summer household chores in early July?  Still, with students starting to return next weekend, it has to be done.  So, I've been painting walls and trim, recovering bedroom chairs, refurbishing lampshades and rearranging pictures to be hung and books etc to be discarded.  I work, I sweat .... I shower and I pop open a cold one.  (I thank God for the guy who invented beer and for the next guy who thought about dropping in a slice of lime!  And yeah, kudos to the refrigerator inventor!)

I also spend Saturday mornings at my local Farmer's Market.  (I have become the new Sat morn Market Manager/Wrangler.)  And even though we should be living on a steady diet of fresh peaches, blueberries and yogurt during this time of year, I am seduced by fresh veggies -- the multi-colored beets; the different greens of the lettuce, kale, chard; the silky ears of corn; and the unknowns ......... such as this Kohlrabi.  

Wiki says:  " The taste and texture of kohlrabi are similar to those of a broccoli stem or cabbage heart, but milder and sweeter, with a higher ratio of flesh to skin. The young stem in particular can be as crisp and juicy as an apple, although much less sweet."

I haven't tried him yet, but I've searched out recipes and plan on roasting cubes in olive oil and garlic and just before eating it, splashing it with a good vinegar.  A good vinegar like the Maple Rum Balsamic I bought in July at the Lunenburg Farmer's Market.  (Do you remember me highlighting that booth -- Salty Betty?  She also sold Lemon Rose Sugar.)

I also brought home fresh garden carrots and parsnips from the Market and served them for Sunday's family dinner.

I heated olive oil & real butter, browned some pork tenderloin with sliced onions, deglazed the pan with the delicious Maple Rum Balsamic (WHAT an aroma!), added the scrubbed, chunked veggies along with a couple of cubed sweet potatoes, a sprig of fresh Thyme, a little salt and pepper, a generous splash of white wine, a small handful of dried cranberries & slivers of dried apricot; covered the pan and transferred the whole to the oven for an hour to roast.

Perfection!  The pork was tender and fragrant with thyme; the veggies infused with the sweet maple/rum flavor; and every now and then, your bite would be surprised by the soft dried fruit.

It was worth the sweat!

Now I'm off to try to find a recipe for Maple Rum Balsamic so I can share this treasure with my family and friends!

How are you spending your sweaty days?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Thrifty Thursday

Wow!  Another post this week!  Must be the lack of children 'cause it's certainly not the lack of things to do.

But I wanted to share some of the treasures I found during my vacation.  

Because I have more than enough clothing -- enough to garb the entire mature, plump women in a small town, actually!-- I did not shop for clothing.  (That's not to say that I didn't find or buy any more clothing ..... just that I'm too embarassed [and lazy] to tell you about them!)

My thrifting this summer focused on concentrated on household goods.  Household goodies like these.

Something I've been searching for several years (but wouldn't pay the reg price of $20-$30); my patience has been rewarded -- $4 at Frenchies.

The perfect lampshade for my antique lamp ($6) and the perfect pillow for my favorite chair in front of said lamp ($4)

A couple of lovely vintage items:  a Canadian centennial 1867-1967 water pitcher (a big WOW at $4) and a depression glass milk jug at $6.

This gorgeous little depression era jam pot was bought at a little antique store; the "50% Off Everything" sign had me screeching to a halt.  I paid a scandalous $12 for this -- but I fell in love.

More depression glass -- 2 little dresser jars:  1 with a tin lid for $9 at the Halifax Value Village; and when I crossed the Harbour into Dartmouth, I found it's pretty cousin with the bakelite lid (I don't think it's original to this jar) at their VV for $1.  They shall live happily together on my dresser holding cotton balls and safety pins ..... or perhaps Skittles and M&M's!

My best buy all summer has to be this quilt top.  Isn't that an amazing price at $10!  It's block optic pattern and perhaps was intended as a lap quilt; the blocks are all hand quilted, and it has real wool batting.  But I want to find a co-ordinating fabric and increase it's size to fit my double bed.  
(This winter, I shall turn OFF the heat and let my little Asian girls freeze as I stay toasty warm while quilting and being covered by this sweet guy!)

Your turn now.  Did you find some wonderful thrifty finds this summer that you haven't shared yet?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Releasing my Fear of August!

Okay; I'll admit it.

I'm afraid of August.

Why?  Well, it means that my "summer of love" (self-love, that is) is coming to an end.  

In 3-4 short weeks, my beloved students will be back, and there goes my freedom and lack of responsibility.  

It also means that I have to stop skiving around and get my summer projects finished.  I can let a lot of them go.  (I STILL haven't stained my side deck -- and I've been in the house for 5 years!)  But there are some projects that I've committed to so I must finish them.  (The only way I can ensure I'll get a project done in the summer is to tell someone else that I'll do it.)  

So, I'm a busy beaver these days trying to cram in fun, enjoyment, embarassing the one child living at home with me this summer AND getting my projects finished.
Oh August!
Why must you come so soon?

But wait; let's be positive here.  There are so many wonderful things about August in Nova Scotia.  Let's focus on them.

  1. Fresh corn
  2. Bountiful blueberries
  3. Local veggies for delicious hodge-podge
  4. My littlest girl's birthday (She'll be 20 on the 24th)
  5. Pirate Days in Mahone Bay - Another opportunity to dress up and go out and dance
  6. Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival
And yes, the late month return of my international students -- and the mess and busyness and different foods and all the extras like planning of weekend get-aways before the snow flies.

What about you.  What do you love (or hate) about August?


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